Throughout the rich history of the NFL, there have been several “firsts” along the way. Probably the most notable in recent history was the first time two black head coaches went against each other in Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007 in Miami when Tony Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts defeated Lovie Smith’s Chicago Bears.
Super Bowl XLVII will be the first time two brothers go against each other when Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco Forty-Niners take on John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens at the Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
Six years ago, the nation was pretty much split in half as far as the fan preference to win. This year that is anything but the case. Probably 75% of fans across America are hoping to see Ravens Linebacker, who has announced his retirement as soon as the season is over, go out in a blaze of glory as part of a World Championship team.
As for the two brothers, they are both extremely competitive, but they are at least saying in public that it is just a matter of taking care of business. Jim was asked if he and his brother ever talked as kids about playing against each other in a Super Bowl. “No, not as kids. At Gettysburg, our conversations about facing each other were the November 25th game that we knew was on the schedule, the Thanksgiving game.”
Jim was always considered the best athlete of the two growing up, and had a successful run as a quarterback in the NFL. John never played in the NFL, and was asked at Media Day at the Superdome on Tuesday what is was like playing youth hockey against his brother in Michigan.
“I stutter right away when I think about it I guess. Playing any sport with Jim (Harbaugh) growing up was a test of will for all of us. Jim was ahead of his time, he was bigger and stronger than all the kids his age. He didn’t hang out with kids his age too much he hung out with me and my friends all the time. He was good enough to take it to us on a pretty regular basis. Youth hockey in Ann Arbor, it’s big in Michigan. We played hockey, we played basketball, we wrestled. We played seven sports when I was in seventh grade. For one year we played them all, whatever sport was in season we were at practice. I’m not sure what the thinking was, but now that I have kids I think I can figure it out. Jim was a great competitor. If you played hockey with Jim, you got bounced around. That was true for pretty much any sport though.”
Obviously, one of the brothers will have to deal with the fact that he lost to the other once the final gun sounds late Sunday night in New Orleans. John has been used to playing “second fiddle to his older brother all his life, but is hoping he’ll turn that tide on Sunday. Based on fan preference, he’s got a large portion of the country in his corner. He’s hoping, along with superior play by his offensive, defensive and special teams units, he’ll finally get the last laugh. It should be a great Super Bowl that could well come down to which team has the ball last or which team suffers the most turnovers.